Ask Dr. Amy: How Can I Help Improve My Knee Function?

One of the most common pain points in fitness are knee injuries. The knees are often a source of added pressure in workouts—think running, jumping and other high-impact movements that put extra weight into the joints.

Functional movements, however, prioritize strengthening and stabilizing the knees through proper form, safe stepping patterns and focusing on the hips. Like Pvolve, knee recovery workouts can help those with past and current injuries, plus prevent future injuries no matter the fitness level.

Dr. Amy Hoover, DPT, Chief Physical Therapist and member of the Clinical Advisory Board is diving into how and why the knees are a problem area, and how your workouts can help. 

My knees move inward when walking and working out — what can this be from? How can I prevent it?

We are all built a little different. Some people have more of a natural angle at the knee which can be inward (valgus) or outward (varus.)  This can also be influenced by the angles of the hips from the pelvis, called the Q angle. Women have a larger Q angle due to a wider pelvis for childbearing.  Another reason for inward knee angles could be functional, stemming from weakness at the hip. When we walk or have to balance on one leg when exercising, it requires our hip muscles to keep the hip stabilized to support our body weight over one leg. When our glutes and hip rotators are weak, we tend to collapse a bit in the hip and the stress of our body weight transfers down into the knee. This can cause the inward angle at the knee. All of these differences may influence your knee alignment during workouts.  

We can prevent the functional knee collapse by improving the strength, mobility and stability around the hip joint to better support our weight during functional movements. Many of the moves in Pvolve focus on this concept, and being aware of your knee position can help you focus in on the activation of your hip muscles to improve balance and functional mobility with proper mechanics. 

What may cause knee pain during Pvolve workouts?

If you are experiencing knee pain during your workouts, consider going back to the fundamentals of the p.stance and p.sit. You should always be able to see your shoelaces if you look down at your foot. If your knee is too far forward, you are not properly aligned. The best way to improve this is to continue to work on the form and improve the hip strength. Modify by not going as deep into the p.sit  Use a mirror to make sure you are keeping the knee back. Check where your tension is by going into a p.sit and then lift your toes. If you can do this, you know your weight is in the heels and you are using your glutes and hip muscles. If you cannot lift your toes you are not in your heels and are likely too far forward. 

How can Pvolve help overall with knee function?

As a physical therapist, when I rehabilitate knee injuries or surgeries, I always focus on hip strengthening and mobility just as much as the quad and hamstring. Why?  Because the hips are the most dynamic joint of the lower extremity, the most supported by muscle and should be carrying the weight (both literally and figuratively!) If you have strong hips your knees will take much less stress and be able to function at their best. Pvolve aims to do this exact thing. It’s all about functional movement and the foundational moves support and encourage a strong core and hips for this exact reason. Pvolve does also work the quads and hamstrings but in a balanced and more functional way, using whole-body movements.

What's the best equipment to use to help knee function?

I like the light ankle band and the P.ball because they can really make you focus on the hip muscles throughout the movements and offer progressive resistance (increased tension on the band as you stretch.) I also really love the slant board for hip and knee alignment as you can't stay balanced with your knee forward. It really helps encourage hip and core activation with good lower leg and knee alignment.

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